Companies today face heightened scrutiny when it comes to the handling and use of personal data. We often see it in the news and through recent compliance mandates, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which affects not only companies located in Europe, but any organization that handles information belonging to data subjects from the European Union (EU).

Unfortunately, many companies lack insight into all the ways they capture, use and share sensitive data. This insight could include where data moves or when it might cross international borders.

At every step — from capturing personal data or storing it in a database to accessing it across various lines of business and sharing it with business partners — the movement of data, combined with deep network visibility, allows organizations to gain the insights they need to protect sensitive data, manage its use and maintain compliance.

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Case Study: Retailers Face New Data Privacy Challenges

Let’s look at the retail industry, for example. Smart retail brands are discovering that different media and transactional channels work in harmony to help make their brands more relevant and drive sales. Companies in the retail industry process a huge volume of credit and debit card transactions, but these transactions often capture other personal information as well. Whether it’s loyalty cards, email addresses, clothing sizes or other data retailers use to detect buying patterns, there is a wealth of information that is collected, stored, processed and shared across many stores, data centers and business partners. The value of this information makes these organizations a prime target for attackers and puts critical data at risk.

Protecting personal data requires knowing what data is being used within your organization, who is accessing it and how it moves across the organization (and even geographic borders). Companies spend a tremendous amount of time and effort to protect data that is known, but we ultimately need to ensure that all personal data is protected and used properly.

In addition to losing brand reputation and client trust in the event of a breach, retailers can now be held financially accountable for the improper handling of personal information because of GDPR. Companies must be able to demonstrate that they have incorporated privacy and security considerations into their systems, services and products by default.

A Little Network Visibility Goes a Long Way

Security intelligence platforms are designed to help organizations easily detect sensitive data through network visibility, identify potential risks and quickly alert security teams to suspicious activities that may signal an attempt at data theft. By investing in solutions that analyze network traffic in real-time, organizations can more capably detect new assets and identify sensitive data in its application context as it moves from one location to another. These tools can also prioritize risks and vulnerabilities based on where data is stored.

Companies in all industries can protect against data compromise by continuously monitoring content as it traverses the network. These insights enable security leaders to properly manage sensitive data and prepare for new and emerging compliance regulations.

Whether you are a retailer, financial institution, utility, government organization or manufacturer, we all depend on large volumes of personal information to ensure the success of our customers and organizations. Protecting this information — and treating it responsibly — starts with knowing where your sensitive data is, where it comes from and where it is going.

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